Who is Nirav Modi, the billionaire jeweller at centre of Rs 11,400 crore PNB scam

WION Web Team
New Delhi, Delhi, India Updated: Feb 15, 2018, 12:14 PM(IST)

In what could be the biggest banking fraud in India, state-owned Punjab National Bank has said it has detected a US $1.77 billion scam and billionaire jeweller Nirav Modi is at the centre of it. Photograph:( WION Web Team )

India's second-largest state-run lender, Punjab National Bank (PNB), has detected fraudulent transactions worth Rs 280 crore in a case that could affect more banks and raise fresh questions about lending procedures at Indian banks mired in soured debt. The entire scam is believed to total up  to about Rs 11,400 crore.

This could be the biggest banking fraud in India as its quantum is bigger than an estimated 9,000 crore scam at erstwhile Satyam computers.

In 2015, Bank of Baroda - another public sector bank - had brought to light a scam in which two Delhi-based businessmen cheated it of Rs 6,000 crore.

At the centre of the PNB scam is Nirav Modi, a billionaire jeweller. Here is a brief profile of the man:

  1. Modi is one of India's richest men. He is worth $1.73 billion according to Forbes, placing him 85th on India's rich list.
  2. The 47-year-old is the founder of jewellery giant Firestar Diamond. His high-end Nirav Modi brand has stores in several of the world's major cities - ranging from upmarket Defence Colony in Delhi to Mumbai, New York, London and Macau.
  3. Nirav Modi comes from a family of diamond brokers in Antwerp, Belgium. He studied finance at Wharton but dropped out within a year.
  4. After dropping out of Wharton, Modi came to Mumbai to learn the nuances of trading from his uncle Mehul Choksi, chairman of Gitanjali Gems.
  5. Bollywood star Priyanka Chopra is the brand ambassador of his company.
  6. Despite making a late entry in the retail business in 2010, Nirav quickly made a name for himself as the jeweller to the stars. By 2013, he had made it to the Forbes billionaire list.
  7. Just last year, he bought an iconic Mumbai property - the rhythm house music shop - for a reported price of nearly $5 million to set up his own store at the prime Kala Ghoda property.
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